In the News / July 2018

Erie’s New Entrepreneurs

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On June 20th, 2018, in celebration of World Refugee Day, two Syrian men unveiled their Shawarma Station food truck, a dream that had been years in the making. Mohamed Todmri and Omar Eed are both 18-year old Syrian refugees who came to the United States two years ago.

The two men, who were resettled in Erie, Pennsylvania, opened Erie’s first Syrian-operated and refugee-owned food truck. Their dream became a reality with the help of the International Institute of Erie’s (IIE) funding, a field office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. “We helped them through our program to get a loan, and we helped them formulate a business plan and with overhead. We assisted with research for the food truck, and we helped them to have everything be up to code,” said Bassam Dabbah, an Erie Program Coordinator.

Based on their resilience and years of experience in the food industry, the men expressed confidence about the future success of their new business. Prior to opening their own food truck, Todmri had worked at a restaurant in Jordan while Eed showcased his talents at a restaurant in Egypt.

Dylanna Grasinger, Director of the Erie field office, expressed her excitement and applauded the men’s continuous determination. This unveiling marked the breaking down of barriers in the Erie community and a welcoming of new cultures. For the men themselves, this new beginning allows for new connections to be made all throughout the community: at parties, events, meetings, etc.

USCRI’s Erie field office offers numerous services ranging from opening your own business to childcare services. Not only does the office run programs that help individuals fresh off the plane but also those who have already settled and need help with things like learning English language skills to kick-start their new lives. It allows refugees to call Erie home by highlighting their various contributions to the community, including this one.

Read the full article here

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